If you read Val’s post about the NFL schedule, you should know that the end of July and beginning of August means it’s time for training camp. This will be our 6th summer attending the Pats training camp and it’s always a highlight of our summer.
Some teams hold camp at their own facilities if their practice fields can accommodate the crowds. Others choose to travel to a nearby destination.
Here are the top ten reasons you should go to training camp:
1. It’s free!
Not many things are free these days, especially anything related to the NFL. If you’re not ready to shell out the cash to see a game, start with attending a training camp session. We don’t know about other venues, but you don’t have to pay $40 for parking either for Patriots training camp and that makes us extremely happy.
Ever wanted to get something signed by your favorite player and not have to pay a million bucks for it on eBay? At the conclusion of each session, players go out to the crowd to sign autographs. They are usually sweaty and tired, but have smiles on their faces and appreciate the support of the fans.
3. Get up close and personal
Unless you have on-field passes for a game or you run into a player in the real world, you generally don’t get that close to them. Depending on the set-up of the practice fields/facility, training camp is often a great opportunity to see your favorite players up close. You can really appreciate just how gigantic some of these guys are, and in some cases, see all the other physical attributes (*cough cough* Jimmy Garoppolo’s hair and smile) that they have going for them.
4. You don’t have to understand the game to know what’s going on
Val and I took one of our friends this year who isn’t quite as uh…enthusiastic…about the game as we are. After the 2 hour session ended early due to a sudden downpour, we asked her what she thought about it and she said she really enjoyed herself, even if she didn’t know what was going on some of the time. Sure, we were there to answer her questions and fill her in on the camp story lines, but she was able to appreciate the excitement of a receiver running down the field to catch a deep ball.
5. Great photo opportunities
Do you fancy yourself a photographer? Training camp provides tons of opportunities for you to take some great sports action shots. Val always gets a few fantastic photos each year.
6. Fun for the whole family
From what we can tell, most teams provide other activities during training camp days. The Patriots have their Fan Zone, which includes games for kids, bouncy houses, alumni and cheerleader appearances, and additional concessions. From a quick Google search, this seems like the norm for many teams.
7. There’s a lot to look at
There’s always something to watch at training camp. Sure, the team will do stretching together and will run drills that involve most of the team, but they will also break up into skill groups. The wide receivers might practice running routes, while the running backs practice holding onto the ball while someone tries to smack it away. The kickers, punters, and long snappers will be doing their own thing at some point, practicing their kicks. There is always a lot going on and it’s never boring.
This is a really weird thing to put on a Top 10 list, but it’s legit. Everyone, and we mean, everyone, that you see on the field, has great calves. Players, coaches, assistants, camera guys…if they are wearing shorts, you will be impressed. We can’t explain it, but we don’t hate it.
9. The fans
The running fan commentary that surrounds you is entertaining, to say the least. Most of the fans who attend training camp are going to be pretty dedicated and for the most part, they know their stuff. When a player makes an awesome catch, they cheer. When a rookie drops a ball from the starting quarterback, they boo. (They don’t serve beer at the Patriots training camp, so people don’t get too rowdy, either, which is a nice change from normal games.)
10. Candid player moments
Peyton Manning will most likely not do this at a game. He will, however, do this at training camp:
Did you go to training camp this year? Tell us about it in the comments below.